Activists React to President Sending Troops to Africa

When President Obama authorized the deployment of 100 armed U.S. troops to Central Africa to help regional armies fight the Lord’s Resistance Army, he referred to legislation he’d signed in 2010 — the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act — which had 64 cosponsors, passed the full Senate by Unanimous Consent and the House by voice vote.

The author of that legislation, former Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisc., told ABC News in a statement that “our legislation did not authorize the use of force by American troops anywhere,” but he noted that the bill “did call for a comprehensive approach in dealing with the Lord’s Resistance Army, which includes military, intelligence, diplomatic, and development components.”

Feingold said, “If the military advisors being deployed by the President are being used to facilitate information and intelligence sharing, including among regional militaries, that is consistent with part of what our bill was seeking. But that mission should be just one piece of a larger strategy that focuses on civilian protection in the broadest sense.”

A coalition of human rights groups applauded the president’s move.

“By deploying these advisers, President Obama is showing decisive leadership to help regional governments finally bring an end to the LRA’s mass atrocities,” said Paul Ronan, Director of Advocacy at Resolve.

“These advisers can make a positive difference on the ground by keeping civilians safe and improving military operations to apprehend the LRA’s top commanders.”

John Prendergast, Co-Founder of the Enough Project, said that if “part of a larger multinational strategy, the deployment of U.S. advisers can help play a catalytic role. Missing elements include more capable forces dedicated to the apprehension of Joseph Kony and protection of civilians, and an intelligence and logistics surge from the U.S. to help those forces succeed.”